Lifelong Friend

Dr. Tom, Lisi, Tammy and Kelly at the beginning of surgery week.

Lizbeth or “Lisi,” is like many young adults: She’s moved from her small town to study at the university, has a part-time job, and loves to take selfies! She’s smart, social, and self-confident.


lisiShe’s also a former FACES patient.


During the most recent surgical campaign, Lisi traveled 12 hours by bus to meet the FACES team members at the hospital in Lambayeque. And she didn’t come for another surgery: she came to say, “Thank you.”

“Gracias por tanto al DR.TOM y todo su equipo quirurgico. Uds hacen que nuestra vida sea mejor y que la sociedad nos acepte. Jamas dejen de venir; su ayuda es fundamental para seguir mejorando la vida social de todos los labioleporinos .”

English Translation: “Thank you to Dr. Tom and the Surgical Team for everything. You make our lives better and society now accepts us. Never stop coming. Your help is fundamental in improving the social life of everyone born with clefts.”

Lisi, with her brothers, at home in Eastern Peru

She continues to reach out to FACES team members throughout the year, having formed friendships with her surgeons and nurses. Below is a birthday greeting to Dr. Tom Albert, President of FACES. A part from studying accounting, she continues to practice her English.




What a Team!

The 2017 Surgical Campaign was a marvelous success!

The patients are recovering beautifully, and the team members have finally been able to catch up on sleep!

This global effort was made possible by countless individuals: In North America, FACES recognizes and thanks all of the medical volunteers and their families, the year-round donors, and the administrative team that supports this mission. The Surgical Team was able to provide life-changing surgeries for 49 patients, who otherwise would never have access to surgical care.

FACES also expresses gratitude to the individuals in Peru who support the mission: The Social Services department meticulously registered and coordinated the pre-operative care for each patient. The Pharmacy Staff stocked the necessary medications for both during and after the surgery. And, as in years past, the local Lions Clubs brought food for the patients, their families, and the surgical team.  The surgeries would never happen without the support from the South American colleagues.


Click Here to view the photo highlights from the campaign.

2016 Screening Trip: 70 patients evaluated

Once again, the FACES Team returns home from Peru happy and humbled.

On November 13th, members of the FACES leadership team, in collaboration with local partners, conducted patient evaluations in preparation for the 7th  Cleft Surgical Campaign in Lambayeque, Peru.


The patient screening enjoyed wonderful support from Hospital Belen and the Lions Clubs. FACES Surgeons Dr. Tom Albert and Dr. Dana Smith screened nearly 70 patients born with clefts, many of whom were returning patients following up for continued care and evaluation.



The surgeries will take place in January, at Hospital Belen in Lambayeque and Hospital Regional in Chiclayo. The FACES team will work with the staff of both hospitals to provide surgeries for about 50 patients.

The November trip is a wonderful opportunity to meet with local leadership and coordinate public health efforts. Dr. Robles of Hospital Mercedes, who specializes in restorative dentistry, orthodontics, and related surgery, continues to collaborate with us for pre and post-patient care. Dr. Moises Rosario, director of Hospital Belen, and Dr. Enrique Altamirano, director of Hospital Regional, are preparing their OR equipment and staff to accommodate the influx of patients during the campaign. They are an indispensable component in preparing the cleft patients for surgery.


Part of the trip, when possible, is dedicated to reaching the patients in the most remote areas of the country; patients who are unaware of the screening campaigns. The FACES team traveled to Inkawasi this year, assisting the Lions Club in a vision campaign and reviewing a few babies with clefts.

The Local Leos: Friendships to celebrate

The young members of the Lions Club are called Leos, and there are several of these young Peruvians in particular who have embraced the service culture of their Lions Club and become wonderful colleagues of the FACES Foundation. They are the future leaders of their communities, and they are leading through service.

dinner for patients

Feeding the patients who must stay at the hospital over night.



Leos with Portland Lions

Front and center: Olga, Gaby and Tathiana


Over the years, we have appreciated the enthusiasm and compassion demonstrated by the Lions Club members, including the Leos. On our most recent trip to Peru, Olga introduced us to a former professor, Dr. Robles. He currently treats patients with clefts & other facial anomalies at Mercedes Hospital in Chiclayo. He will be a great resource to many of our shared patients.

patients with Gaby

Gaby connected us with patients all the way from Cajamarca


in the hospital

Leos serving as interpreters and patient representatives during the surgical campaign


Thank you for your generous service!



Career-changing, Life-changing

FACES Foundation takes pride in the ability to provide life-changing surgeries for children in Peru. The children, however, are not the only ones to have their lives changed: members of the FACES Surgical Team often remark on the impact their service has on their personal lives. Two young team members in particular had very meaningful experiences.

Makena Julia photo





Makena Kerr and Julia Davis are both high school seniors who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine. Their service with FACES has given them a vision of the impact they can make as trained medical professionals.


Dr. Jessyka Lighthall (left) shows Makena the details of a cleft repair

Makena Kerr joined the team in the position of Patient Representative. She herself has undergone several cleft surgeries, allowing her to empathize with the patients on a profound level. Her mother, Barbara, also supported FACES by traveling with her daughter and speaking with the patient’s families, comforting them and providing valuable insight from a mother’s perspective.

Makena hopes to be a surgeon, and in a recent interview with the Columbian about her experience with FACES, she said, “It really touched me how one surgery could touch a child’s life. It makes me want to be a surgeon even more. I really want to go on medical missions as a surgeon.”  Click here to read more.


Julia Davis learned of FACES Foundation from her Aunt, Beth deLaney, a recovery room

Julia observes bedside manner from her aunt, Beth, who is the FACES Team Lead for recovery nursing

nurse who has volunteered with FACES for the past three years. Last summer, Julia traveled to Panama for a month of community service and language immersion.  She joined the FACES team in Peru this year as an interpreter. Of her experience, she wrote the following:

“This trip inspired my heart and my mind. My appreciation and knowledge of other cultures grew in just one week. I learned more then I ever thought I could have: solidifying my aspirations to become a nurse, no longer shying away from my dreams, and finding a passion and respect to those on the team who have dedicate their lives to helping others. I am so appreciative for the relationships formed with the inspired medical team, dedicated family members of the brave patients, and supportive community members. I will never forget the gratitude felt by the families, hugging and kissing us as they left the hospitals with mementos of photographs.”




In 2015, we met Normalida. She arrived to our host hospital during surgical week, and her story and kind spirit touched our hearts.

Clefts run in her family: she has three cousins who were also born with clefts and were patients of FACES Foundation in 2014. Thrilled with the results, her cousins brought her to us, and we scheduled her for a cleft lip repair two days later.

77 before and after

Normalida, January 2015


To our delight, Normalida returned to see us during our 2016 campaign! As in most cleft cases, she still had a cleft palate that needed repair. Her results are remarkable! Her smile, as pretty as ever, shines with confidence and gratitude.


Because of the distance of her travels (20 hours of walking / bus), she and her mom stayed at the hospital until the day of her surgery. Each time a FACES team member came to the waiting room, they received a hug from Normalida.

Normalida’s Mother, Tom Albert, Normalida, Kelly Jensen

Once admitted for her palate surgery, she continued to charm the surgical team with her optimism and sweetness.

Because of her open palate, Normalida never learned to speak. Last month, FACES repaired her palate, and she will now have the ability to produce sounds and begin to communicate with her voice.

Her life has changed forever. We feel truly fortunate that she found us.

Normalida before and after (1)

Normalida, 1 year after lip surgery


The Peña Córdova Family

The Peña Córdova family are coffee farmers who live in San Ignacio, Cajamarca, about a day’s journey south of the FACES hospital. Three of their six children who ranged in age from 2 years to 14 years had clefts which had not been repaired. Following encouragement from James Sanchez, a member of the Lions Club in San Ignacio, and Mercedes Uriarte Latorre, the director of health and nutritional support for the Cafe Femenino Foundation, the family sought out the help of FACES to correct their children’s clefts. With support of the Lions, and drawing on their own resources, the family traveled 20 hours by bus each way to attend a FACES patient evaluation in early December 2013. They made the same trip again in January 2014 for their surgeries and all three cases of clefts were repaired.

In early March, the Lions Club conducted a medical campaign in two hamlets near San Ignacio, and the family’s son Jerson volunteered to accompany Lion Teresa Bancallán in order to tell his story to encourage others to overcome their fears of going far away to receive surgery. (Talk about a real poster child!) While there, Teresa saw the whole Peña Córdova family and was able to report that all three children who received cleft surgery are doing great!

Additionally, the general manager of a network of television stations in northern Peru, Alberto Priano of TV Norte, is a Lion and a strong supporter of FACES. Alberto sent a TV reporter to interview the Peña Córdova family just after their surgeries. The report (in Spanish) can be seen HERE.

A good example of how FACES has been able to be a catalyst for bringing so many people together while reaching out to those in need, the Peña Córdova’s family story is also indicative of the trust the people in the community have in FACES. May their story help inspire others to come to FACES and the Lions Club for care.

Jerson Yodan, age 14; Geibi, age 4; and Deiler Carlos, age 2, along with their parents and Dr. Tom Albert and Kelly Jensen before surgery.
Jerson Yodan, age 14; Geibi, age 4; and Deiler Carlos, age 2, along with their parents and Dr. Tom Albert and Kelly Jensen before surgery.


The Peña Córdova children in March 2014, two months post-surgery.
The Peña Córdova children in March 2014, two months post-surgery.

A Chance Meeting With Yovana and Chalon

We were crammed, shoulder-to-shoulder, in the back of a creaky auto rickshaw. Bumping along the dusty back allies of Lambayeque, we were heading to a morning meeting. The rickshaw hummed past boys selling loaves of bread on the side of the road, gangs of bored-looking dogs and bustling Internet cafes.

The rickshaw, which was being maneuvered by a young Peruvian who hardly looked out of his teens, neared the final meeting destination. Suddenly, we heard a screaming and commotion outside the rickshaw. What was it? Did our driver run someone over? Was someone hurt? We glanced around, trying to glean where the noise was coming from.

Down the street we saw two figures waving their hands wildly at us. We squinted, but couldn’t make out who it was. As we got closer, we recognized that one of the women was holding a baby.

“Hola! Hola! Dr. Tom! Dr. Tom!” yelled one of the women. We instructed the rickshaw driver to pull a U-turn and so we could figure out who it was. The rickshaw driver heeded our instructions and we neared the walking pair.

It was Yovana and Chalon! Chalon, a small baby girl, was one of the FACES patients who received cleft lip surgery from the team in January 2012 and Yovana is her mother. (We wrote a story about the pair during the last surgical trip: FACES Family Perspectives: Yovana and Chalon). Yovana, walking with her friend, had somehow spotted us, jammed in the back of the rickshaw. We hopped out of the vehicle and greeted her with smiles and hugs, asking how Chalon was doing.

“She’s doing great!” exclaimed Chalon. “Still, there are not words to thank you for what you have done for my baby.”

Chalon, who has round cheeks and enormous, deep-brown eyes, grinned and laughed at us from her mother’s arms. She has the tiniest of scars on her lip, where once there was a gaping hole. Chalon will receive cleft palate surgery from the team in January 2013, during the next surgical trip, and the team is looking forward to help her develop her speech.

After catching up with Yovana we stuffed back in the rickshaw.

“See you in January!” we said, waving furiously as we headed back down the bumpy road.


Milagros’ Story: Silent to Speaking

Every day Milagros would sit in her classroom listening other students speak and wish it was her. Because of her cleft lip and palate, no one at school could understand Milagros when she tried to communicate. If she ever needed to convey a point, a friend would stand up for her and translate what she meant to say. But despite her embarrassment about her condition, cleft lip and palate, she attended school religiously.

Milagros heard about the FACES surgical campaign to northern Peru through the Lambayeque Lions Club, a strong local partner for the foundation. One of Milagros’ teachers was a member of a the Lions Club, which helps find, transport and feed patients during the surgical campaigns. She attended the screening clinics and has since had three surgeries from the FACES team. Milagros is also the first FACES patient to receive speech-therapy over the Internet using the unique telemedical model that connects speech therapists in Portland, OR, with patients in rural Peru.

“I didn’t even know about speech therapy before FACES came,” says Milagros. “This model, over the Internet, is very good because it’s the only way I could get services like these that will help my speech.”

Motivated and hard-working, Milagros is also an ideal patient. She continued Internet therapy with FACES for three years and, although has formally finished the program, continues to do daily speech exercises by herself. To practice she will record her speech, then listen to the tape to hear any mispronunciations.

Since finishing from the FACES program, Milagros has continued on to college and graduated with a degree in chemical engineering. The improvement in Milagros’ self confidence is tangible and she has stayed connected with FACES to help incoming patients who will be going through the same process of surgery and speech therapy that she did. During the 2012 Surgical Trip, Milagros acted as assistant to the patient coordinator, helping with patient check in. The support she offered to families and patients, nervous and unsure about about the surgical process, was invaluable. “I explain to them what this program is all about and help others become motivated to do what I did.”

“It’s difficult,” Milagros says, about not being able to communicate clearly with a cleft lip and palate. “People would make fun of me, but my parents would always say, ‘Keep your head high and move forward.’”

And move forward, she did. Milagros says that even before her therapy she had the best grades in written exams, but couldn’t pull through with the oral tests. “I couldn’t explain anything,” she says.

“But now, after the therapy, I can communicate,” says Milagros. “I am regarded by other engineers and can explain things to them, something I could never do before. It feels good.”

Dr. Tom Albert, FACES Founder, and Milagros.

Milagros gives a speech of thanks in front of the FACES team, hospital staff and the Lions Club at the Surgical Trip banquet in January.

FACES + Cafe Femenino Visit Clean Water System in San Antonio

San Antonio is off the beaten path. A tourist would have little reason to visit San Antonio – it’s not on any trekking trails, there aren’t any major attractions nearby, and there is no accommodation, besides private homes, for visitors. The village of San Antonio, which consists of about 100 families, lies deep in Peru’s Amazonas Region in the north of the country, nestled on the side of a lush green hillside, high enough in the mountains to produce coffee beans.

Together with two partnering groups, Cafe Femenino and Green Empowerment, FACES has helped bring a clean water system to San Antonio, thanks to a generous $40,000 grant from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters based in Waterbury, VT. The clean water project entailed installing pipelines from a freshly built water tank about a mile north of the village. The community members of San Antonio were involved in all aspects of the completion of this project, including the manual labor needed to construct the water tank and install the pipelines.

The clean water project in San Antonio is multi-tiered, as it is essential to assist with both infrastructure and education. A water tank was installed and piping was laid to bring clean, potable water to each home in the village, meaning that the 500 people of San Antonio can now drink water from taps right in their homes. Each home also received a new latrine installed in locations so as not to contaminate any of the water sources. The FACES team was involved in providing health education to the community of San Antonio on topics such as gastrointestinal health.

Access to clean water is one of the best ways to improve overall health and wellbeing of an entire community. Nearly 80% of diseases in developing countries are related to contaminated water. FACES is so excited to be part of this clean water project in San Antonio, and we’re looking forward to collecting data to assess the impact of the this project on the community.

During the November/December pre-surgical trip to Peru, FACES representatives, including Dr. Albert (FACES Founder and President) visited San Antonio with members of the Cafe Femenino Foundation to check out the finished clean water system. The community members welcomed us with open arms, showing us incredible hospitality. The team toured the village, saw the new latrines, as well as the newly installed pipelines, faucets and showers in each home.